I Remember Mama
For his 40th and final score, Richard Rodgers turned to a play he and Oscar Hammerstein II had produced on Broadway 35 years earlier. John Van Druten’s 1944 hit I Remember Mama, about a Norwegian family’s survival in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, had become a modern classic. Rodgers’ collaborators, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan, were riding high after the success of their show Annie, and the musical seemed to have promise. But the new work never caught fire; the show had trouble in its out-of-town tryout, and director Charnin was replaced by Cy Feur. Starring Liv Ullman, and featuring George Hearn, Dolores Wilson and George S. Irving, the musical opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on May 31, 1979. The production received some very good reviews, but most were less positive. I Remember Mama closed on September 2, 1979, after a run of 108 performances.
The Hansens are a Norwegian immigrant family living in San Francisco early in the 20th century. Papa, a ship’s carpenter, loses his job in the shipyards and returns to Norway for work. Mama takes in washing to help support her five children. One of them, Katrine, has literary ambitions, which Mama helps her achieve with the help of a title English author. On the day Mama is to leave San Francisco and rejoin her husband, Papa returns and they buy their house with the money Katrine earns from the sale of her first published story.
Marta Hansen (Mama)
Lars Hansen (Papa)
Dame Sybil Fitzgibbons
Neighbors and Literary Admirers